Earlier this year I revealed that my word for 2023 was acceptance. I had been reading Michael SingerMy Surrender Experiment’s book The Untethered Soul and it reminded me of how important accepting the Is-ness of every experience was to living a peaceful and happy life. Also important is living in the present moment—not the past, not the future, just now. After a couple of months of practice, I’m not an expert and likely never will be. But I believe I’m getting better. As Singer continually reminds me/us, the problem is not the experience you are having or are witnessing. The problem is the story we are telling ourselves about the experience. It doesn’t matter if it happened two minutes ago or 20 years ago, that story running through our minds, that narrative, is either re-creating that event in our mind or emotions, or passing through us. By the same token, it doesn’t matter if something has happened yet (or will ever happen), the story we are telling ourselves about what might happen is our choice. We face that choice in every moment. Right here. Right now.
Of course, Singer doesn’t mean that we don’t pretend negative things aren’t happening—either moments ago, long in the past, or potentially in the future. It means that we have the ability to change the story so that it doesn’t irritate us, devastate us, or scare us. When we alter that story, we retain the ability to take an action not filled with anger, fear, victimhood, or revenge. We can choose to act in a way going forward that shows up in ways that we want to see in the world. Clearly, this isn’t easy. But I do get how empowering it is, as well as how beneficial it is to our mind, heart and soul. So instead of fighting with the circumstances that show up, the memories we carry around, or our fears for the future, we reframe them and take any actions that better suits our higher self.
As Singer continually reminds us, starting out with really challenging issues is difficult. That’s why he strongly recommends we go for the low-hanging fruit. For example, for the last several weeks I’ve been feeling like I should write another blog post. Why? Because the story in my mind is that I like writing and I want to keep my blog going far into the future. In the past I’ve told myself that to not post more regularly is bad. To succeed a blogger is supposed to consistently add content. I also accepted a book to read and review several months ago. I hoped I would be inspired to write something to share on the blog after reading it. Unfortunately, while the book was relatively interesting, I couldn’t come up with anything I wanted to write about so I kept putting it off. Still, because I tell myself it’s important for me to do what I say I will do, I knew I should write something about the book. That led me to not writing anything at all. Not doing either has been nagging me for a couple of weeks.
Notice how often the words “should” and “supposed to” or “it’s not fair” show up when we are listening to those voices inside our heads that we have been carrying around most of our lives? Maybe they came from our parents, our friends, people in authority? Who knows? They get planted in our minds and then the stories we tell ourselves often just regurgitate those stories regardless of whether they are true. Should, ought to, and I have to, etc. unconsciously guide our thoughts and actions without us being aware of why they are there or where they came from.
Today I sent an email to the publicist of the book I was offered and explained to her that I would not be writing a blog post about it. Just facing my hesitancy was necessary. Then I sat down and wrote out this narrative explaining my recent absence here on the SMART Living 365. Just so you know, I’m not going anywhere—so this blog will continue indefinitely. But unless I have something that I believe to be worthwhile to say, I’m not going to post. Every day, every moment I want to get better at listening to my inner promptings about what is true for me—and then follow through with that. I want to eliminate shoulds and supposed to and accept that following my inner guidance is my highest course of action. And most importantly I want to remember that “right here, right now” is the only real moment we have to deeply experience all that life has to offer. And it could be that is a SMART approach for us all.
Diane Dahli says
As a blogger, I’m conscious of pieces I’ve posted that started out as ‘space fillers’, but culminated in articles that were meaningful to me and helpful for others. My current approach to writing, whether it’s a blog, a comment on other blogs, or a book I’m working on is to start. Once I’ve started, I’m off, and usually happy with the result. For me, because I’m a procrastinator, that’s the hardest thing. BTW, I’ve followed you for years, and am so glad you are still in the game!,
Kathy Gottberg says
Hi Diane! Thanks for your advice and encouragement. I very much agree that not every post seems as thought-provoking or insightful as others, but you just never know, do you? Because at other times some of the posts I am most proud of seem to not appeal to anyone but me!!! Still, even though I get busy and distracted at times (like now!) that urge to write and express myself just doesn’t go away. It’s only a matter of time until something will spark some thoughts and off I go. As you say, sometimes it is just the starting that’s the hardest! And yes, I know you’ve been following for years and I so appreciate it! Thank you! ~Kathy
Best statement ever: DON’T should on yourself”.
We’ll see you when we see you. Wishing you a Blessed Monday!
Kathy Gottberg says
So VERY true!
And thanks for your words of encouragement. May your Monday be blessed as well. ~Kathy
Love the post and I particularly appreciate the comments left.
Guilt inducers is a good way to put it. I, too, suffer from that. Feeling like I should be posting me, I should be getting out and about more, etc. By nature, I’m an ambivert. I like to spend time with people and do things. However, I also enjoy and NEED my time to myself to regenerate.
I think the “have tos, should do, it’s not fair” mantras come through a lifetime of the human experience. I don’t believe there’s one instance that shapes these notions. We get those constraints put on us at different points by different circumstances or interactions with people. The more empathetic you, the worse it is for you (trust me I know LOL).
I agree focusing on what’s important to yourself is what you should focus on. Time is, indeed, very short and it’s finite. I can’t believe it’s the middle of April already. Time flies!! Michael Singer is a very wise man – change our story so it doesn’t irritate, devastate or shock/scare us.
Like you, I have been working on my inner critic and other issues my entire life (hence the Psychology/Sociology degree). And I don’t think I’ll ever be done. But that’s the fun isn’t it? Always learning, always changing, always evolving to be the person you were meant to be or want to be – not perfect but the perfect version of yourself.
And I love reading your thoughts, muses, machinations whenever you do put them out. It gets me thinking in a different way which I always appreciate. I, too, will look forward to your posts when they come out with anticipation.
Kathy Gottberg says
Hi Debbie! Thanks. Always nice to hear from you. And I’m not giving up…just being more picky about the inspiration I’m willing to follow. And it seems the more active my life is at any particular time, the more my mind is occupied by other activities. Of course I’ve heard several times from several different sources that “blogging is dead.” So that has me thinking. Maybe I’ll do a blog post about that!!! Anyway, I’m sure it is starting to warm up for you (finally) so enjoy your spring! ~Kathy
Hi Kathy, I’m just catching up with everyone’s blogs as well as my own after an absence of a month, so your post really resonated. On my part I’ve been busy either visiting my new granddaughter or knitting for her. If I could be paid for every time I’ve felt a guilt-pang for not carrying out a particular chore or updating my blog, I think I’d have earned a small fortune. Yes, it is hard to simplify life down to what’s really important for you, especially when I have a tendency to tackle so much at once that I can feel I’m letting myself down when I reduce to concentrate only on what’s really important to me at the time. Bit by bit retirement is helping me to get there and your words of wisdom certainly help and are appreciated
Kathy Gottberg says
Hi Caree! Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. Everyone I know (bloggers or not) have so many choices about what we do with our time that it can be a struggle. I know some people seem to excel at going above and beyond the call of duty, but I’m just not one of them. But of course I still think (guilt) about it occasionally. 🙂 If older age is teaching me anything it’s that I need to carefully pick and choose what to do with my time–because that is one of the most precious things we have. Thank you for letting me know you can find some encouragement for your own journey in reading some of mine. ~Kathy
Kim Domingue says
This post struck a chord with me. I’ve recently begun divesting myself of, what I call, guilt inducers. The crossstitch that I started 10 years ago that I really didn’t like, the quilt top I started only to discover that I wasn’t liking how it was coming out, the story I was writing that inspiration petered out on. Guilt inducers, constantly a low key nagging at the back of my brain with their voices whispering to me that I was supposed to, should finish them and that I was wasteful or a quitter if I didn’t. Guilt constantly lurking at the back of my mind. Well, enough. Life is too short. I reminded myself that these things were sunk costs and/or sunk time. One by one, I’m giving them the heave ho and feeling lighter, more creative and more productive with each guilt inducer that I rid myself of. As for your blog, I’d much rather have one well thought out piece here and there than an everyday or weekly post that’s just space filler. I’ll be looking forward to your next post whenever it happens to hit my mailbox.
Kathy Gottberg says
Hi Kim! Thank you. “Guilt Inducers” is a GREAT name for those nagging thoughts that persist over and over! And I’m glad to hear I’m not alone in having them! You’d think after all the work I’ve done on silencing the inner critic that it wouldn’t continue to bother me so much. Of course I’m guessing a big step is being conscious enough to recognize them. And then as you say, working on them one at a time and letting go of them is a good way to go. I appreciate you taking the time to check in. ~Kathy